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AARP program prompts Great Neck Plaza senior living plan

Long Island’s population is steadily growing older, and Great Neck Plaza is making a commitment to its senior residents with a plan to make the village more age-friendly.

The drafted plan outlines potential steps the village can take to support healthy aging for seniors in housing, transportation and other areas.

“We are working to develop the policies, services, setting and structures that will support and enable people to remain active as they age and enjoy their golden years,” Mayor Jean Celender wrote in the report.

The plan is part of the AARP Age-Friendly Communities Program, a national initiative to encourage municipalities to prepare for an aging population. In 2013, Great Neck Plaza announced that it was the first on Long Island to join the roster of more than 70 communities, which now counts the town of North Hempstead.

The number of Americans aged 65 and older is poised to jump from 40 million in 2010 to 89 million in 2050, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. These same trends are reflected in Great Neck Plaza, where the senior citizen population has increased nearly 10 percent over the past two decades and now comprises more than one-quarter of the village’s population.

“The implications of these census figures creates ripple effects through the fabric of America,” the Census report reads.

Great Neck Plaza is looking to plan for these changes with measures to support aging seniors to “live independently” and “age in place” in a walkable community.

Among the listed priorities are addressing traffic congestion by creating separate pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians, improving point-to-point transportation, promoting more mixed-use affordable housing and fostering better connections to health and social services.

A designated citizens advisory committee has spent the past two years creating the action plan, which is under review by the village board.

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